October 23, 2021

Concern, optimism over wedding gatherings this year

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Louisa Brown, manager of Hage Tailor Shop in Cortlandville, shows a flex-fit tuxedo jacket Thursday, a style popular this year. Workers in wedding-related industries shared a mixture of concern about state guidelines for weddings, but hope that weddings postponed last year will return in 2021.

In years before the pandemic, Hage Tailor Shop in Cortlandville would typically provide tuxedos or suits for seven or eight wedding parties in March and April, said manager Louisa Brown.

This year, because of the COVID pandemic, it is half that.

“Right now, the pandemic is scaring a lot of people,” she said.

While more people are getting vaccinated and some COVID restrictions are easing, workers in wedding-related businesses said they are concerned about how state guidelines on wedding receptions may affect wedding plans this year but hope wedding receptions return.

About 3,800 out of 7,600 couples nationwide who were legally married in 2020 decided to delay wedding receptions until 2021, according to an Insider article from February. For couples in New York, that meant having to adjust to new COVID guidelines for how wedding receptions can operate.

In mid-March, state guidelines for weddings and catered events became effective. These included:

A limit of 150 people per event.

Testing of all attendees and participants before the event.

Completing sign-in with contact information to assist with potential contact tracing.

Notifying local health departments of large events in advance.

Requiring mask wearing at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.

Allowing dancing under strict guidelines

Guidelines for dancing include only dancing with members of their immediate group, such as family, and can only dance in marked zones that are 6-feet away from other zones and tables, according to the state Department of Health. The zones should not be less than 36 square-feet and dancers will be required to wear masks.

This has caused some couples to delay wedding gatherings, said Wes Kryger, the president of Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Virgil.

“Some brides are still frustrated where they would like it to be like it was pre-pandemic,” he said.

Last year, the resort hosted about six smaller weddings with 50 or fewer people; most couples postponed until 2021, Kryger said. This year, there are about 80 to 90 weddings scheduled.

Greek Peak plans to build a wedding barn to accommodate up to 300 people on the west bank of Hope Lake, in addition to its wedding tent next to Hope Lake Lodge and Acropolis banquet room in the main building, Kryger said.

He was worried, though, that the governor’s guidelines, including notifying local health departments of weddings, could create more problems as departments are overwhelmed with work distributing COVID vaccines and getting people vaccinated.

After closing for a few months last year, Tailor Brown said she is receiving her regular customers at a steady rate, but is down on orders for weddings and proms for the spring because of uncertainty about the virus.

Vaccinations will be key to the return of weddings, she said. “I think it will pick up as soon as everyone is vaccinated.”

As the weather warms up, Brown said she expects more weddings to be outside, which will be helpful for those even who aren’t vaccinated.

“I think the weddings are going to be more geared outside,” she said. “I think people will feel better that way.”

While Diana MacKenzie, an owner of Hunter MacKenzie Creations, a wedding venue, in Virgil, said she hasn’t received many wedding reservations for the spring or summer, she has started to get some for the fall and into 2022.

“People are still holding out for what the state does,” she said.

The fall, she said, can be a popular time for weddings to be held in upstate New York for the foliage and the weather.

MacKenzie, who opened her venue last year, said she didn’t deal with wedding cancellations that others like Kryger did last year. She said she is feeling optimistic about 2021 and into 2022.

She doesn’t think the size restriction for wedding gatherings will dissuade couples from holding weddings as many gatherings are in the 100- to 150-person range.

“We’ll see how it goes this year,” she said.